For roughly a decade, the traditional Christmas display, provided by John Skansi and Councilman Jim Franich who together head up the local “Sons of Thunder” group, included a City-approved nativity scene next to a Christmas tree and other secular symbols of the Christmas season in the public park. However, in November 2016 the City received a letter from the FFRF threatening to sue Gig Harbor for the “unconstitutional” nativity scene. The FFRF, a Wisconsin-based atheist organization known for castigating people of faith and filing suits that are routinely thrown out of court, pressured the City Council to censor all religious content from the display.
“The FFRF’s hostility toward religious displays on government property cannot go unchecked,” stated Jorge Ramos, PJI’s Staff Attorney in Seattle who met personally with the mayor and council members prior to their 5-1 vote in favor of reincorporating the nativity scene. “The City has the right to recognize religious symbols of the holiday along with other secular items in a public display.”
Brad Dacus, President of PJI, commented, “Our office in Washington State boldly outlined the laws in place that protect and recognize the historical, cultural, and religious value of the nativity scene. We applaud the City for reinforcing history and tradition while rejecting fear.”